You may remember from my earlier post, I am not a cook of any kind. So I had to figure out a few staples to have around to make sure I did not cave and eat the box of vanilla wafers or half of a $5 pizza my kids left behind (no, my kids are not vegans, I have enough food battles to fight with them…)
I discovered a wide variety of staples and easy to make meals or snacks as well as things to pick up on the go…
2. Smoothies. I got myself a decent blender (well my mom got me one for christmas, thanks mom!) and I blend. My current favorite mix is frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, 1 banana, 1/2 cup fresh o.j., grapefruit juice ( I just cut one in half and squeeze right in) 1 Tablespoon of flaxseed and 1 handful of spinach. You can not taste the spinach (or sometimes I use Kale) in the smoothie, but it is a great way to get tons of nutrients. I also make a strawberry, avocado, grapefruit, almond milk smoothie that is yummy. I am so bad in the kitchen that I still look for smoothie recipes, I do not dare come up with my own. Just google Green smoothies and you will be set.
3. Multigrain Cheerios. This is my breakfast, I use almond milk which I much prefer to plain soy or coconut milk (which my hubby likes). Again, this can be a meal or snack later in the day as well.
4. Plain old spaghetti. I can boil water, therefore I can make spaghetti noodles. I prefer Meijer brand Organic Capellini. This is the best of all the whole wheat pasta I have found. (again, thanks mom) Then just find a jar of red sauce (withOUT sugar) and dinner is served! If you have a little extra money that week you can treat yourself to pesto…Some people swear by nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute. I do not need it on pasta, in fact I have rarely used it for anything, but it is a common ingredient in vegan dishes…
5. Apples with peanut butter. I have become and apple snob. In fact a few weeks ago I bought 5 honeycrisp apples (it is March and they are not in season) for $7.00. I suppose buying fruit not in season is not the best choice, but concessions must be made for the busy, non chef. There are a few varieties of peanut butter that do not have sugar and taste great. Plus, to eat this takes a while and since I can not cram it down my throat, I notice I am full
6. Almonds. THere are many varieties. I like the sea salt, but have some cocoa dusted almonds in my office just in case I need a chocolate fix. I am not a big walnut fan, but those are good as well.
7. Quinoa. This is the magic grain. I swear, there must be a million quinoa recipes, hot, cold, with fruit, with veggies… It is an amazing source of protein, fairly easy to make and very easy to find recipes for. I will admit, I only tried making it once (my husband has made it lots) and I burned some to the pan, but there was a lot that was still edible.
8. Odwalla. (incidentally this sounds like an Amharic word for the guy that sticks his head out of a mini bus taxi yelling where the taxi is going) This is a great juice smoothie I have found at Meijer and Walgreens. I am sure it is other places as well. In a grocery store it is in the produce area. There are lots of flavors, my favorite is called Original Superfood and the juice looks green. I often grab one of these when I am in the car for a meal to avoid fast food. I have tried other juice smoothies, (like Naked which is very chalky) and have not been impressed.
9. Starbucks. This is a great place to stop when you need something on the go and are temped by Wendy’s double cheeseburger and frosty…There are a few great staples there. they have 2 smoothies (orange mango and strawberry) that, if you order with soy milk are vegan and filling. I also enjoy just a plain old soy latte. It is made with vanilla soy milk and is so creamy and yummy it makes my day. There are two other “non” Starbucks things I get at Starbucks. They have these AMAZING granola bars KIND bars. They have a few varieties and the are all great. I have found these a few other places (like Meijer by the protein bars) but then you can’t get a latte to go with it. Finally they have a great bottled juice smoothie there. (I think the brand is Evolution). Well I guess that was not finally because they have vegan chocolate. Dark chocolate, organic, no butter, cane sugar… yes, it is amazing to have around. I have not done any research on their oatmeal or other baked goods. But every Starbucks I go to, and I go to a lot of them, always has a few packaged options with nutrition info on it that is usually vegan.
10. Zoup. This is a great, great place. They have about a dozen soups to choose from and always have at least one dairy free, vegetarian option. Each soup they serve notes if it is dairy free, vegetarian, spicy and/or low fat. I think they have about 5 different vegan options that rotate through. I usually skip the bread, but often will get the sweet potato chips or veggie chips instead. Super tasty.
My day always involves a bowl of Cheerios with almond milk and a smoothie. I crave smoothies like I used to crave cheeseburgers. Plus that way I know I am getting fruit, spinach and fiber and all the nutrients and vitamins involved.
So now you have a few basics. I suspect I will have to have another post on restaurant, airplane and invited to a friends for dinner issues, but like I said, we are starting small.
***I realized I forgot a few things! Hummus is a must, I prefer homemade, but it involves a food processor so store bought is a good second. I like veggies with it, cucumber, celery and carrots (and not those nasty baby carrots, real carrots that need to be peeled and cut). Also crackers are a great dipper: Nut thins (in gluten free area of grocery store) I like the pecan and almond flavors. Also Kashi/TLC has great pita chips. I also like to have fresh salsa around and there are a few chips that are vegan, I like the blue corn variety. Not all are vegan so read the label! If you have an avocado, mash that up, mix with salsa and you have an amazing snack!